Residency Academies: The New Wave For MLS

Residency Academies: The New Wave For MLS

  • Posted by Drew Epperley
  • On August 27, 2010

RSL residency academy locker room. (Photo via The Examier)

The development of soccer in the country continues to rely on club academies. For decades we’ve had local clubs taking the reigns and pushing the development but as Major League Soccer put an emphasis on each club having their own youth system the local club system in the country start to slowly change.

Now a new wave of change is about to happen in the form of residential academies or developmental territories. Club are now able to build up their own residential academies to house their own talent in a more intimate setting similar to what the the USSF has had in Bradenton, Florida for years.

Real Salt Lake took the first step this week discussing their residency program in Arizona, a landmark program for MLS. Other clubs including FC Dallas, Chicago and New York also have plans in the works for their own residency programs. Vancouver will enter the league next year and they’ve had a residency program in place for a while now, something other clubs will certainly model after.

The interesting thought though comes from the fact that RSL’s program is also a developmental territory that they’ll have the ability to get players from Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and parts of western Texas. ¬†Territorial rights have always been a topic for MLS, just not a big one.

MLS clubs will soon take up territories that are underserved to help grow their brand and the sport in general. Bigger markets like LA and NY probably won’t go far out of their way like RSL is to get talent in their residency programs but the smaller ones like RSL or Columbus will likely have to.

The cool thing here is that clubs are finally able to do this. Several years ago we only would have thought academies and residency programs were a thing that would never happen to MLS clubs. But the careful planning and management have brought us to this point and the game will only improve from it. We know the good that can come out of MLS teams promoting from within their systems. It won’t be too long before we see a residency player get called up and signed similar to an academy or homegrown player.

Note: For more on the RSL residency program check out this article on The Examiner by L.E. Eisenmenger.

  • Ralphie

    I think Chicago has market rights in Mississippi or something. It would be interesting to see what all the markets were on a map.

  • WSW

    Tampa Bay Rowdies also have a program similar to Vancouver’s. Vancouver was the first team and Tampa second to set-up a residency academy.

  • Jack

    I live in Mississippi and the Fire certainly has some kind of presence here although I am not sure what it is. My 12 y/o nephew plays on a select team that wears Best Buy Fire jerseys and a lot of the other select teams in the area are called the Fire.

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